A vulnerable man was bullied into having his door and windows painted, but a court heard how the work was useless – and the victim was overcharged.
He repeatedly told the men who attended at his home that he did not want the work doing.
But he returned home to find work had already started and he was asked for £850.
He handed over £600 and the gang returned to make sure he paid the rest.
Yesterday cowboy painter Edward Delaney, a 49-year-old alcoholic, was jailed for 14 months after he admitted a fraud charge.
He was also made the subject of a criminal behaviour order which bans him from cold calling for customers.
Mold Crown Court heard that sadly the victim Peter Hare, 60, had since died.
Judge Niclas Parry told Delaney: “Months only before he passed away Mr Hare was repeatedly targeted by you and others for financial gain.”
He was an extremely vulnerable man with a long history of severe mental health problems and who required significant support in the community, the judge said.
Judge Parry told Delaney, of Churton Drive in Wrexham, that he had seen the victim for what he was – and persistently harassed him to have work done on his windows, which were in fact beyond repair.
“He repeatedly did his best to tell you no but you ignored him. He repeatedly told you not to visit his home but you did.
“To put pressure on him, you started work at his property when he was in town. Eventually when he asked how much it would cost, you asked him for three times what would have been reasonable – and in cash.”
He did not have enough money and they went back to his home to make sure he paid the second tranche – all for work that was useless.
Judge Parry said: “He became so fearful that he would not even open the door to his mental health worker.”
The judge said that when the victim was standing at a bus stop he was so vulnerable that he was approached and money was demanded.
It was, he said, the deliberate targeting of a man based on his vulnerability.
The case was aggravated by the fact that Delaney led a criminal lifestyle – he had 30 previous convictions but only one conviction involving dishonesty.
Prosecuting barrister Philip Clemo said the offence dated back to November 2015 and sadly, Mr Hare of Wheatsheaf Lane in Gwersyllt had died in 2016.
He was described as an isolated and vulnerable man with a long history of mental health problems and who needed significant support from the mental health services.
The defendant and another man who had failed to turn up in court and was subject to an arrest warrant had called at the victim’s home and told him his windows needed painting.
They were in a poor condition but were completely beyond repair, Mr Clemo explained.
Mr Hare repeatedly told them that he did not want the work done but the defendant insisted and said he would return the following day to carry out the job.
The work was useless, of a very poor condition, and the two men and an unknown Polish man were present.
Mr Clemo said £850 was demanded and when he questioned it, was told that another window needed doing around the back.
Even if it had been possible to save the windows, the appropriate fee would have been some £300 for the painting. But the work was shoddy and unnecessary.
Mr Hare got in touch with the authorities and was expecting police officers to be present when the men returned for additional money.
“For whatever reason those officers did not arrive and Delaney collected the remaining £250,” the prosecutor said.
He tried to con him further by saying additional work was needed upstairs but Mr Hare insisted he did not want any more work doing.
Trading standards and the police were informed and Delaney was arrested on November 25 when he again with others returned to the address.
He denied being there before and said he was simply delivering a message from someone else.
But Mr Hare was able to pick him and another man out.
Defending barrister Andrew Green said his client was an alcoholic who had been drinking a lot of the time during the commission of the offence.
His memory was somewhat hazy about what had occurred.
Delaney had shown remorse and had been particularly saddened to be told that Mr Hare had since passed away.
His period in custody on remand had given him the opportunity to abstain and he had also attended AA meetings. The Criminal Behaviour Order, in addition to banning cold calling, says he must not be drunk and disorderly in a public place and bans him from going within 500 yards of any address where his wife Margaret Delaney lives.
The judge said there had been allegations of domestic abuse, the police had been called out some 20 times which placed an intolerable burden, but little could be done because the defendant’s wife would not make a formal complaint.
Judge Parry said the order would allow her to continue the relationship if she wanted to but she would know that she would have a safe bolt-hole at home where he would be unable to attend.
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